Michigan And Washington Impose New Restrictions

Michigan & Washington Joined A Growing Number Of US Cities & States In Imposing New Restrictions To Curb Spread Of Coronavirus,

Michigan And Washington Impose New Restrictions
By Jessica Glenza

Amid a nationwide surge which saw the national caseload grow by 1m in less than a week, passing 11m. Johns Hopkins University in Maryland reported 133,045 new Covid-19 cases on Sunday, down from a record high of more than 184,000 on Friday but a 13th day over 100,000 in a row. The growth in cases is especially concerning ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday, when Americans typically gather indoors to celebrate with friends and family.

“The situation has never been more dire,” said Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer. “We are at the precipice and we need to take some action.” Whitmer, a Democrat, ordered high schools and colleges to stop in-person classes, closed restaurants to indoor dining and suspended organised sports. Her order also restricted indoor and outdoor residential gatherings, closed some entertainment facilities, and banned gyms from hosting group exercise classes.

The new restrictions are set to last three weeks, as part of a more surgical approach to dealing with the pandemic than general lockdown orders last spring. Whitmer’s previous stay-at-home orders made her the target of criticism from a Republican-led legislature, rightwing protests and later a kidnapping plot. Whitmer’s new, more limited orders drew condemnation from Trump adviser Scott Atlas, a neuroradiologist without specific infectious disease credentials. Atlas tweeted that Michigan residents should “rise up” against Whitmer’s orders.

Fourteen men have been charged in connection with the plot to kidnap Whitmer.

On Monday, she told reporters Atlas’s comment was “just incredibly reckless considering everything that has happened, everything that is going on. We really all need to be focused on the public health crisis that is ravaging our country and that poses a very real threat to every one of us.”

Atlas tweeted that he would “NEVER” endorse or incite violence.

More than 246,000 people have died in the US from Covid-19, according to Johns Hopkins, which recorded 616 deaths on Sunday. More Americans have died per capita than in other developed nations, studies have shown, even compared to “high mortality” countries. Deaths statistics are predicted to worsen in the next few weeks. Current projections from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show as many as 282,000 deaths from Covid-19 by 5 December.

Spread of Covid-19 appears to be accelerating. It took 300 days for 11m Americans to test positive, after the first case was found in Washington state on 20 January. But it took just six days to move from 10m to 11m. Economists and epidemiologists have broadly maintained the same position throughout the pandemic: that the economy and public health are inextricably linked.

Whether new surgical-style restrictions will effectively contain the virus remains to be seen. Some prominent experts such as Dr Ashish Jha, dean of Brown University’s school of public health, said similar restrictions “appear to be working in France”. Others are more cautious. Andew Pekosz, a professor of microbiology and immunology at Johns Hopkins, told NPR the level of spread is “a very daunting problem to control the numbers of cases that we’re seeing right now with these kinds of minor efforts”.

 on Tuesday, gyms and some entertainment centers will be required to close indoor services. Retail stores, including grocery stores, will be ordered to limit indoor capacity and multiple-household, indoor social gatherings will be prohibited unless attendees have quarantined for 14 days or tested negative and quarantined for a week. By Wednesday, restaurants and bars will again be limited to outdoor dining and to-go service.

Even the previously resistant North Dakota governor, Republican Doug Burgum, ordered a statewide mask mandate and imposed several business restrictions on Friday. The Republican heeded the advice of doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals to require face coverings. Bars, restaurants and other venues were ordered to reduce capacity. North Dakota has nearly the worst per capita spread of Covid-19 in the nation, according to the Covid Tracking Project.

The US appears to be entering the worst phase of the pandemic in terms of new cases. Texas and California last week each marked more than 1m confirmed cases since the beginning of the pandemic. In Texas, sporting events were canceled and at least one city added mobile morgues in anticipation of Covid deaths overwhelming hospital storage. Meanwhile, in California, the nation’s most populous state and the first to issue a statewide stay-at-home order, officials urged residents to keep holiday gatherings to small, outdoor visits less than two hours long.

Health experts and officials across the nation are now cautioning people to forego or revise gatherings and holiday travel plans as Thanksgiving and other celebrations approach. There are notes of optimism on the horizon – makers of two leading vaccine candidates announced their drugs are far more effective than initially predicted. Wide distribution of a vaccine is months away, and will face complex logistical challenges.

This news was originally published at The Guardian